Cookie Fun Workshop, Week 1 of 4

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It's a new month, and that means we have a new Workshop beginning today that will run every Wednesday in February! I am thrilled to have Ashleigh here, from Bee in Our Bonnet. She has mad talent in an area I will forever be lacking. Without further adieu, here she is with our Cookie Fun Workshop! Take it away Ashleigh!
I'm excited to be a guest here at Crazy Domestic to share some tips and tricks that I've learned by making way too many cookies. Making and decorating sugar cookies (while listening to a rockin' playlist) is one of my favorite things on the planet. It's creative therapy, I tell ya!

Let me start with the dough recipe that I use. I've tried several, and I always come back to this one that a good friend gave me because it makes a nice, soft cookie. This does however, make them a little more fragile. I find the royal icing only makes them sturdier, but still... handle with care. A little cookie TLC, if you will.

Sugar Cookie Recipe:

2 cups of butter (room temp, set it out before you make)
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. lemon extract
6 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

Cream the butter and sugar first, add the rest of the wet ingredients. Mix the dry ingredients in separate bowl, then add dry ingredients as you mix.

This is about as much as one kitchen aid mixer can handle. It's the equivilent of a double recipe and makes plenty of dough. The amount that you get out of it will depend on the size and thickness of your cookies.

I like to turn the dough onto a long piece of saran wrap and make it into a nice bundle like this:

Now chill the dough for at least 4 hours in the fridge. Overnight is best.

Now that it's chilled, take it out and set it on the counter for about 5 min before you work with it. (Two steps forward, one step back, I know. But it works). Now we are going to roll it out. I cut off a nice chunk of my chilled, yet workable dough.

Generously flour your surface, then roll and cut as you please.

I love my straight rolling pin because of how wide an area it covers.
I also love my rolling pin bands that keep my cookies the same thickness all the way across.

Now I'm a firm believer in sil-pat, non-stick baking sheets, and cookies just slide right off of them. Is your birthday coming up? I'm just saying... husbands, get on top of this!

Bake in a (preheated) 375 degree oven for about hmmmm. Cook time varies a ton with size, thickness and if you use a sil-pat (cuts baking time). I say, start small. For most cookies, I set the timer for 6 min, and add more time if needed. You don't even really want them to be brown. Maybe just touches of golden on a few corners, yet you do want them cooked all the way through. Otherwise, they turn a dough-ey gray-ish color in the middle.

Question: Should you use the scraps?

Answer: For sure! Recession or not, I just can't waste that much...BUT... Be aware that each time you roll it out, you are working more flour into the dough. More flour will make it stiffer, less tender (less tasty) and a little less smooth looking. The first roll out also spreads/puffs a little more, while the last holds to the exact size that you cut it. Therefore you will notice a considerable size difference between the first and last roll out. If your goal is for each cookie to be exactly the same size, you need to roll out from the same roll out number. When you get a new chunk of dough, I consider it roll out one again. Here is an example of the same cookie cutter, the same thickness of dough, but done in the first, through fifth roll-out. Do you see the difference in how they look? Slight, but noticeable to a cookie nerd, like myself. I like to use the first and second roll-outs if I'm giving them/selling them. I set the other scraps aside for making the "kids decorate pile." It's a little mean, but they'll get through it.

Tip: If you want to put your cookies on a stick, roll them out nice and thick, cut them out, then put them on your pan. Chill them on the pan for about 20 min or so. Take them out and insert the stick, centered in the thickness of the cookie. Chilling them will keep them from distorting when you put the stick in. (Notice the sil-pats in this picture).

Tip: Don't forget that you don't necessarily have to have a cookie cutter shape, for everything you want to make. There are a million cookies you can make out of simple shapes. I use a ruler and a knife to cut out rectangles for these "ruler cookies."

And these "mail cookies."

And almost anything can be drawn onto a simple circle cookie.

And when you don't have the cookie cutter you need, be inventive! This turkey is made from a heart and circle cookie cutter.

When all else fails, make your own cookie cutter! Simply make a template out of cardstock, place it on the dough and cut it out with a small paring knife. I traced my kids' hands and made a template for these turkey handprint cookies.

Oh yeah, the cookie insanity has just begun, because I'm coming back to Crazy Domestic soon! (Yesssssssss)! Now that we've discussed all of the dough, and cutting-out basics, next time we can dive into the great mysteries of royal icing!

Feel free to come on over and visit me at "bee in our bonnet" until next time!
How exciting! Ashleigh has shared with me her line up for this series and I am sooooo excited to learn what she is going to be teaching! See you all next week!


Leena said...

as a foreigner I really would like to know what is the stuff you put on top of the cookies??! This is not really typical in our country.

Stacey said...

I love your cookies Ashleigh! I never knew those rolling bands existed. Maybe now my dough will be more even. I'm looking forward to the rest of your tutorials!

Allison said...

I've had these amazing cookies from the even more amazing Ashleigh, and let me just say, they are as yummy as they look! Ashleigh is ridiculously talented!!

Ani said...

So excited for this cookie workshop. I'm following both Crazy Domestic and Bee in Our Bonnet, and I love cookies. What a great combination. I can't wait for your royal icing post!

Jessica Humrich said...

Why did I look at these on a day I skip breakfast??

Jessica said...

This might be a silly q, but do you prefer to use salted or unsalted butter?